Corequisite vs. Traditional English Composition Courses

Rowan College offers Enhanced English Composition I, a 4-credit corequisite course that provides additional review for students struggling with grammar and other foundational English concepts. Professor Emily Maddox discusses the structure and curricular design of this course, how it differs from traditional composition classes, and how students typically placed in developmental-level English benefit from working within this accelerated framework.


About the Presenter:
Emily Maddox has worked in higher education for nearly 15 years. She is an adjunct English instructor and the coordinator of the Academic Support Center at Rowan College Gloucester County. She is also the course coordinator of Enhanced English Composition I, Principles of English Grammar, College Reading III, and the interim coordinator of English Composition I. She is involved in efforts to redesign developmental education at Rowan College.

Webinar Question and Answer Session

Q: What placement testing do you use for this course?

A: We used to use the conference test for about 10 to 15 years ago. And then we moved into the Accuplacer. We were using the Accuplacer up until this past August, moved to

Next-Gen which is still Accuplacer but they changed their scoring, there are score levels but it’s still basically the same test.

Q: Is English 102 required at Rowan Community College?

A: Yes. English 102 is required as part of the first-year English program at our school and it does count towards their 60 credits towards graduation.

Q: Do you still have separate classes for ESL?

A: My college doesn’t have separate courses for ESL. We’ve tried that in the past. And actually, what ended up happening was students wouldn’t realize that the course that they were enrolling in was designated for ESL. So we would get a mix of native English speakers and ESL students. We did away with that. Primarily, what happens is, depending on where they place on the placement test, many of the ESL students end up either in the Principles of English Grammar course or the ENG101E course.

Q: How much of your time in the coreq course do you spend as work days on assignments for composition?

A: A standard three-credit class at my college is 75 minutes, so we get about an hour and 45 minutes per class period with ENG101E. So, some classes I end a little bit early. Some classes I’m right to the end.

Q: Do you have any specific readings that you found particularly effective or engaging for the students?

A: Yes. There was one reading. It’s probably my favorite reading overall, it’s called It’s not just how we play that matters.  I think it was published in Newsweek originally and you can find it online, or even on iblog, I think.

Basically the premise of that reading was about the “everybody gets a trophy and the participation trophy” and how that’s actually detrimental to children. So we always have really good conversation about that in class. About the right and wrongness of participation trophies and it ends up being really good.

This semester I’m actually trying something new. I’m incorporating a theme into the course work. This semesters theme is personal finance, so I’m finding some articles that deal with personal finance and I think some of them might be a little bit over their heads and some of them are right where they are. It’s always a work in progress. I’m always looking for new readings iblog is really helpful for that in terms of various topics.

Q: Do you coordinate weekly meetings with other instructors or meet with them on an as-needed basis? How do you do this as a department?

A: I would love to meet with them once a week, but getting everybody available is very difficult, especially at my college that is very heavy with adjuncts. They’re all moving, including me, from campus to campus. We try to meet on an as-needed basis or through email, but I do like to meet with them in person at least once a semester. One of my administrators and I have started hosting workshops for instructors for various courses. The idea is that instructors can come and go as they please.

Q: Students who take ENG101E do not receive a separate for the E part is that correct? They received the same grade?

A: Yes. It basically counts as their ENG101. When they transfer, they are only transferring three credits instead of four. It’s a comparable grade as if they had taken ENG101.

Q: Do you have any advice on students who are not as motivated and strategies that you may use to motivate and work with them in the classroom?

A: The motivation level can be a challenge. I teach at eight o’clock in the morning and at that time nobody’s particularly motivated. Every semester, I have a couple of students who are sitting right in the front and they’re right with me and then I have a couple that are less motivated.

My personal method is a lot of Socratic questioning and just talking through ideas. So typically, by the end of the semester, I have most students actively participating. I’m never going to get everybody, but I try to create an environment where students are comfortable and will talk to each other and to me and that encourages their engagement with the reading.

I’ve also found the Hawkes courseware has been a very effective model for holding students accountable for their homework and their reading.  In the past, I had no way of knowing whether students were actually engaging with the textbook or not. And now, because of the courseware, I do have that data.

Q: Do you use the grammar lessons within Hawkes, or do you do that in a different format.

A: Yes. I used the grammar aspect within Hawkes this past fall. Most of the students who really need help with grammar are in the ENG107 first and then they move into ENG101E. I don’t spend a whole lot of time with grammar I approach grammar on more of an as-needed basis, so I don’t require students to complete the courseware exercises for grammar. But every now and again I get students asking me how they can improve their grammar and then that’s when I will refer them to the courseware. If there’s something class-wide where everybody forgets how to use commas this semester or something, I will actually do a group quiz using the courseware in during class, and that can be fun.

Q: Are you paid for the extra teaching session and extra time for the corequisite course?

A: Yes. My college pays per credit hour so I actually end up getting a little extra per semester for that class and that extra credit.

Q: Do you make use of any technology in the classroom. For example, let them look up word definitions or other such activities?

A: Yes, I try to engage some use of technology. Technology is simultaneously the best and worst thing in the classroom. The more time I let them use their cell phones to look something up, I have to be aware that they’re probably going to be distracted. But yes, I do use the smart board or the projector and I can use the courseware as needed.

Q:  Did I understand you correctly? The composition component of the coreq has a combination of college-ready students and students who need the supplement, if so, what is the average ratio of college ready to developmental students?

A: Technically all of the students that are enrolled in ENG101E probably tested into it so they would be classified as developmental level. However, it is possible that that non-developmental level students choose to enroll in ENG101E but mostly my entire classroom will be filled with developmental level students.

Q: How does this model work with online classes? Do you have any instructors at your university that teach only online classes?

A:  As of right now, we do not have any online sections of ENG101E. We do have a few online sections of the traditional 101 as an instructor and the coordinator I’m very hesitant to create an online model of this course just because I think that the nature of online would take away from the benefit of the extra time and some of the other benefits of the course. So that’s always something I’m thinking about for future because colleges are increasingly becoming online campuses as well as face to face campuses. So, I may have to adjust my thinking about that in the future. But for now, it is not online. I like web-enhanced, we use Blackboard for essay submission, homework submission, and that sort of thing, but the classes are face-to-face.

Q: Is there an enrollment cap on the face-to-face classes?

A: Yes, there should be, there’s always a sliding enrollment. When they first started with this course think we recap that 18 now we’re capped at 22 so it’s still a few students less than the traditional one-on-one, which is kept that 25 which is a nice benefit because there is a little bit more in that one-on-one time, especially when I do conferences.

Q: Do you have statistics you can share about the pass rates for ENG107 and ENG101E as well as from 100 level and 201 classes.

A: I don’t have the statistics for 101. The pass rate for 107 is actually lower than the pass rate for 101E because of the nature of the course. The pass rate for 107 is probably somewhere around 60% and the pass rate for 101E is probably some around 80%.

The other thing to note is because we are talking about college-level courses and that developmental courses. The passing grade for these courses is a D-, which of course is non-transferable and certainly not anything to be proud of but a D- is enough to get them into the next class.

Q: Do you spend much time during the supplement discussing college readiness, study skills, campus resources, and that those sorts of topics?

A: I do that on an as needed basis and maybe at the beginning of the semester. For the most part, my college also has a college studies course which students take if they test into several different developmental courses and that course actually handles college readiness and study skills and things like that. So typically, I’ll address those areas as needed, but I try not to put too much of a focus on it.

Q: Do you use GPA or have you considered using GPA in the past as placement?

A: We have Accuplacer which we use and they look at SAT scores, ACT scores, or PARCC scores, which is the High School proficiency test that New Jersey is now using. We don’t look at GPA at this time, but I’m not sure if that’s something my administration is considering for the future.

Q: How does the 107 curriculum differ from the 101E? If they do not pass 107 do they then go on to 101E?

A: Good questions. ENG107 is a three-credit course and it focuses primarily on sentence diagramming and the principles of grammar. It gets students thinking about their sentences more critically and how the parts of speech work together. It’s actually a lot of fun to teach. If they fail 107 they take 107 again. And there is actually a relatively high number of students who take 107 in the fall and then they retake it in the spring.

We have short writing assignments in 107. It’s not meant to be an essay that’s what the point of 101E is, it’s more about getting them used to writing and using correct sentence structure and keeping in mind what they’re learning in the class and applying it.

Q: How do you address students who need help with reading skills? Do you address some of that using the courseware as well?

A: A lot of times, the students who are enrolled in 107 or 101E are also enrolled in the reading course. It works out really well because they’ll apply what they’re learning in the reading course into my classroom and vice versa. So there’s a lot of commonalities there. With my reading skills, the way I handle it is mostly when we talk about the supplemental readings. I’ll ask questions like “what is the author’s purpose” or “who is the intended audience” and things like that. And we have a discussion about the reading. And I also could use the courseware for that as well.

There’s a lot of different ways of approaching reading without me re-teaching what they’re already learning in the other course.

Q: What’s the focus of the 102 class?

A: ENG102 in my college is a literature-based writing course. I know this differs from a lot of other colleges. A lot of colleges have ENG101 which is the writing process and papers and then ENG102, which would be the research paper model and a portfolio model.

At my school we focus on writing literary analysis and research papers based on literature which again, can be a challenge for students who struggle with their reading levels in 101 and 101E because it is possible for students to test into 101 and the reading course so that’s kind of the next step for us, we’re retooling our reading program.